Today in a Zoom meeting with journalists from across the country, mainstream journalists were coaching other journalists how to fight “misinformation” around vaccines, specifically noting that conservative white evangelicals were the main problem demographic for what was styled “vaccine resistance.”
“The two subgroups that come up the most who do not want to be vaccinated are Republicans and white Evangelical Christians, along with those in rural areas, which there is some overlap there,” Jennifer Kates, HIV Policy Director at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a forum led by the Poynter Institute called “Vaccine Hesitancy: What Journalists Need to Know.”
Joie Chen, former CNN anchor, Al Jazeera and CBS correspondent led the group, which primarily heard from Kates with the Democrat-controlled Kaiser Family Foundation and also Houston journalist Chauncy Glover who was brought in primarily for the benefit of asking how to appeal to African American vaccine resisters.
The seminar revealed that Kates’ employer, the Kaiser Foundation, recently hired comedian Kamau Bell, while wearing a sweater that says “Powerful Black Voter”, to appeal to African Americans.
“Hello Black America! There’s good news out there, there’s a COVID19 vaccine! Yay! But the bad news is that as black folks, it’s hard to trust what’s going on,” Bell says in the video, which appears to be funded by Kaiser as a commercial intended for black audiences. “What do we do? We turn to people we can trust: black doctors and black nurses!”
Chen mentioned that “familiar and trustworthy voices” were necessary to break down resistance among certain communities.
Chen asked the audience, who were primarily journalists, why they were reluctant to get the vaccine. The majority said that ‘possible side effects’ were the primary reason for reluctance to get vaccinated. Kates said that the same group among the public were refusing to get the vaccine but were also most interested in ‘getting more information’ about the vaccine and more information would ultimately break down their resistance.
Jackie Schlegel, Executive Director of Texans for Vaccine Choice, disagrees:
“The assertion that “conservative white evangelicals” are the driving force behind “vaccine misinformation” is nothing more than the next play from the divide-and-conquer playbook that has been used against vaccine injured families and the vaccine safety awareness movement for decades now. Rather than acknowledge legitimate concerns and have open honest conversations about the safety and efficacy of any vaccine, they seek to instead marginalize dissenting voices in an attempt to silence them.”
Glover spoke about the ‘trauma’ and ‘distrust’ among minority populations for public health issues due to a variety of factors including whether there were enough minorities in health trials, the suspicious name of the vaccine program, and general distrust of the government as well as a concern about possible long-term side effects. Renewing that trust, Glover said, required addressing those issues with trust and education with timely and accurate information.
Texans for Vaccine Choice’s Jackie Schlegel would like to be a part of the conversation in providing that timely and accurate information: “Safety issues associated with the use of pharmaceutical products – including vaccines – do not discriminate based on race or religion. Diluting the issue in this way is proving detrimental to the cause of increasing confidence in the vaccine program as more and more people of all demographics see the suppression of effective treatments, the ill-effects of pushing this rushed-to-market pharmaceutical product, and the heavy handed threats of social and economical consequences for non-compliance rather than a willingness by health authorities to acknowledge and address the glaring scientific and moral problems associated with the implementation of the COVID vaccine program.”
Glover said that all sides to the story need to be told, whereas the moderator, Chen, said that objections to vaccines were “stunning” to her, including any claim that microchips might be used to deliver vaccines to patients, and were, therefore, unworthy of inclusion in journalism on the topic.
“Should we be reporting that?” Chen asked about people with dissident views on COVID and the COVID vaccines. “Or does reporting it amplify those sorts of things?”